Sep 052011

I like to think about and write about the creative process, but I often focus on my favorite parts of that. Creating space for inspiration and imagination, managing time, making plans, doing the hard work of evaluating and revising. One area where I am trying to study and observe a bit more is connecting with others as an artistic person.

A lot of artistic people feel shy in social situations. Painting, sculpture, writing, and practicing music are all inwardly focused experiences. Artistic people have much more personal stake in their creations than people at many other vocations and jobs. A cook in a diner takes pride in what she makes, but a chef in a fine restaurant even more so. A truck driver may take pride in his work, but he would probably not consider it a personal form of artistic expression. Artistic people can get really wrapped up in their own inner worlds, which contributes to shy and awkward interactions when meeting others and talking about their work.

I’ve recently read First Impressions by Ann Demarais and Valerie White. The book is a practical guide on how to make a solid first impression in professional and dating situations. The authors work from the premise that one must be socially generous in order to make those around them feel good. The authors recommend smiling, showing interest in others, and bringing an optimistic tone to the conversation.

For artistic people, this kind of book might help with art shows, gigs, book signings, negotiations, auditions. Even band rehearsals and interviews could benefit from a bit of social generosity. I am not the type to read breezy, step-by-step self-help books, and this one definitely feels like it falls into that category. I have put it down and picked it up a few times, just taking breaks. But there are some practical gems in here for most of us, once we realize that we may not give others the impression we think we do.

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